WASHINGTON — Howard University Hospital received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines Monday, which was sooner than expected according to a spokesperson. The hospital will begin to inoculate their health care workers Tuesday, including its CEO Anita Jenkins.
“It's been a hard fight and I want us to win,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins took over the helm at Howard University Hospital just one month before the country’s COVID-19 lockdown. Her career in D.C. has been shaped by the stress and price of the pandemic.
“Health care disparities, research, all of that has not necessarily been a smooth ride for Black and brown people in the United States," Jenkins said. "That's why this COVID vaccine is met with skepticism. But let's please understand, we are losing the battle with COVID. Black and brown people are dying about three times more from this disease than others, or even our country at large."
Jenkins said people of color simply cannot afford to sit this one out. The CEO wants people to trust the vaccine, so she will be the first in line to receive one of the hospital’s 725 doses.
The Pfizer vaccines are now being stored in one of the pharmacy’s ultra-cold freezers. It is a small box, but a big moment for Howard University Hospital.
“We realize not only is this life saving, but this is historic,” she said.
According to DC Health, six District hospitals will administer the city’s first shipment of 6,824 doses. D.C.’s Health Director said reshipments will come on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, with the number of vaccines sent based on need and availability.
Jenkins said Howard's 725 doses will not cover every health care worker who needs one. She expects to go through their allotment in a matter of a week. Still, this first step is an important one for families in D.C. and around the globe, Jenkins said.
“For my children who I haven't seen in Ohio, for our grandchildren, I want to see them and I want to see them well,” she said. "This is a worldwide problem that we all need to solve.”